Nov. 21, 2007
By Jim Wrobel
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The Holy Cross men's lacrosse team returns 22 players, including seven starters from a team that won four of its last six games and had the best overall record at Holy Cross since 1988 with a 6-8 mark. The Crusaders also welcome 11 freshmen to the program.
Along with wins, Holy Cross also made vast strides in numerous statistical categories including scoring 117 goals which were ranked fourth in the Patriot League and picking up 407 ground balls which were third in the conference. Fourth-year head coach and 2007 New England Coach of the Year Adam Pascal is confident that the momentum that the team created last season will continue over to 2008. "I think the momentum will carry over because there is a lot of excitement to start the season especially with the success of last year," said Pascal. "There are so many young kids on the team and with youth there is enthusiasm and the ability of not knowing what it feels like to lose. The entire team worked hard this summer and in the fall. So I think the success of last year will motivate us to continue on the winning path."
Not only did the Crusaders improve statistically they also gained a winning attitude that was demonstrated in defeating Hartford (10-8) and Vermont (5-4) in close games that Holy Cross had not been winning in the past. "It was big for the team to win those close games because the year before we lost three games by one goal, including two in overtime," said Pascal "So to win those games gives us confidence and lets us know we can win those games this season too. I think when we went to Vermont and were trailing 4-1 at the half and came back and won 5-4 that was the turning point of the season. It was a big win on the road."
Pascal was very impressed with the work ethic of his team during fall practice. "The players had to work hard all summer knowing there would be tough competition in practice this fall," said Pascal. "With us it is what ever you have done lately. Everyone played at the scrimmages this fall and everyone is getting better. No doubt about it, our team works hard everyday. If you don't work hard you won't play. We tell the kids that you will play if you give the effort."
The fact that the Crusaders earned so many ground balls last season indicates how hard the team works. "We spend a lot of time on stick skills and the fundamentals of the game," said Pascal. "To get that many ground balls means we have a blue collar attitude in that our players are determined to be tougher and get the ball."
The senior class of Toby Banta, James Malone, Tim Redmond and Bobby Sullivan have witnessed the program develop and want to have a successful senior year. "All four seniors want the team to win and they don't have egos," said Pascal. "They have a great deal of pride as they have seen the program improve and start to win."
The nine juniors are expected to have a big season as a class. "The juniors are the first class that I recruited," said Pascal. "Those nine players have grown up as far as responsibility. This is a group that wants to win. They have been leaders and we need for them to have a big year for us."
The sophomore class also includes nine players as they made a major impact as freshmen and are expected to contribute even more this year. "Top to bottom a lot of them started games and saw a ton of playing time and did a great job as rookies," said Pascal. "They earned a lot of experience so we expect them to play like experienced players."
The Crusaders welcome 11 freshmen to the program. "This year it is important for them to learn how to play college lacrosse and everything that goes along with it," said Pascal. "We are looking for them to bring a lot of depth to the roster and to contribute as much as they can to the team."
Brandon DeLisio is a goalie who played three years of varsity lacrosse at Kingston High School in Kingston, N.Y., as he earned all-sectional honorable mention honors as a junior and senior, while he was also a senior captain and the Defensive Team MVP. Bruce Dew played four years of varsity lacrosse at Manlius Pebble Hill School in Dewitt, N.Y., as he had 22 goals and 18 assists as a senior and was a two-time team captain as well as the 2007 team MVP.
Colin Flood was a four-year member of the lacrosse team at Bay Shore High School in Long Island as he set the school record for points (12) and assists (9) in a single-game, while he recorded 113 career points. Conor McKenna was a two-year member of the Summit High School varsity lacrosse team in Summit, N.J., where as a senior he earned first team all-conference and all-division accolades and earned honorable mention all-state honors as a team captain.
Conor McSpedon was a four-year member of the varsity lacrosse team at the Hackley School in Tarrytown, N.Y. as he earned first team all-Ivy League and Team MVP honors as a senior captain. Matt Moran played three years of varsity lacrosse at Rush Henrietta High School in Rochester, N.Y., where he was a two-time team captain and was named the 2007 all-county Sportsman of the Year.
Matt Petri was two-year member of the varsity lacrosse team at The Taft School in Watertown, Conn., as he was a New England Prep All-Star, while he had eight goals and 23 assists as a senior. Anthony Quinn played two years of varsity lacrosse at Chaminade High School in Mineola, N.Y., as he played defense on a team that won the 2006 and 2007 CHSAA Championship and were ranked No. 8 in the nation in 2007 by Inside Lacrosse.
Justin Rowley played three years of varsity lacrosse at Liverpool High School in Liverpool, N.Y., where he had 77 goals and 42 assists for 119 career points as he earned honorable mention all-league honors twice. Zack Smith was a three-year member of the Pelham Memorial High School varsity lacrosse team in Pelham, N.Y., as he was a two-time team captain, while received all-league honorable mention as a sophomore and junior and earned all-section 1 accolades as a senior. Eamon Troy played two years of varsity lacrosse as a midfielder at Summit High School in Summit, N.J., as the team reached the 2006 state championship game.
Here is how the Crusaders should look in 2008.
Sophomore Edison Parzanese is coming off an outstanding freshman season that saw him lead the team in assists (29) and points (48), while he was second in goals (19). He was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week twice as he tied for first in the nation in assists by freshmen and ranked second in total points by rookies. "Edison is a great set up man," said Pascal. "He does a great job at finding his teammates. He is a great team player."
Sophomore Chris Smirti also had a strong rookie campaign with 11 goals and one assist for 12 points. Junior John Marino and freshman Matt Moran are also expected to be major contributors at the attack position. "These four guys will really need to produce for us especially with the graduation of Paul LeBlanc who led the team with 29 goals," said Pascal.
Junior Luke Marchand and sophomore Kenny Minor are expected to be key players in the offensive midfield. "Their roles are going to increase from last year because of graduation," said Pascal. "They will do a lot of the anchoring for us in the midfield as they are very athletic. They will have to produce for us." Marchand is coming off a season that saw him score 10 goals and dish out three assists, while Minor netted seven goals and had two assists.
Seniors Toby Banta and Tim Redmond will need to have solid seasons. "We expect them to have good senior years," said Pascal. "They are expected to be leaders. These two guys understand what the coaching staff wants. They have the ability to control the ball and bring poise to the field."
Senior Bobby Sullivan and junior Sean Daly will be major factors in the defensive midfield. "Bobby will do a great job for us as he always has," said Pascal. "Sean had a great summer and fall for us. He really used the summer to get better and to prepare for the season."
Juniors Paddy Dowling and Rich Durand will see time at defensive midfield, while freshmen Eamon Troy and Zack Smith will also contribute in this position. Marchand, Minor, McKenna and Petri can also play defensive midfield. Junior Brian Becker and freshman Conor McSpedon will be rehabbing injuries this spring.
On defense, Pascal expects senior James Malone, junior Tyson Colaianni and sophomores Tim Barrar, Brendan Candon and John Rapport all to be huge on defense. "We have great options so it will be who is playing good at the time that will be on the field on defense," said Pascal. Junior Patrick Flynn, sophomore Kevin Connolly and freshman Anthony Quinn will bring solid depth at defense.
"Our goaltending is a strength for us," said Pascal. "We have three goalies. Junior Jimmy Harrison started all last year. Sophomore Connor Sweeney had a great fall and freshman Brandon DeLisio will bring depth to the position. Having three strong goalies are huge because it gives the rest of the team the confidence of knowing that they have someone who can keep the ball out of the net." Harrison started in all 14 games a year ago as his 173 saves and 12.36 saves per game were ranked second in the Patriot League.
Dowling will be the primary face-off man again this season, while Durand, McKenna, Daly and Colaianni could also see time.
The five defenders of Barrar, Candon, Colaianni, Malone and Rapport will be the primary long stick midfielders. Last season, Candon led the team in ground balls with 36. "All five of these guys are athletic so who ever is not playing defense will be playing at long stick midfield," said Pascal.
Holy Cross is scheduled to play a total of 14 games this season, including six contests at home at the Hart Turf Field.
The Crusaders will open the season with five straight road games against St. John's (Feb. 16), Yale (Feb. 23), Dartmouth (Feb. 26), Lehigh (March 1) in the Patriot League season-opener and Hartford (March 4). Holy Cross will then host Colgate in the home-opener (March 8), before playing two more game on the road versus Navy (March 15) in Dallas, Texas and Army (March 22).
The Crusaders will then play two consecutive games in Worcester with contests against Bucknell (March 29) and Lafayette (April 5). After Holy Cross plays at Marist (April 12), the Crusaders will then host Harvard (April 19) and Vermont (April 22).
The Patriot League Tournament is set for April 25-27, on the campus of the regular season champion. The top four teams in the final regular season standings will take part in the tournament. Holy Cross will then play a home game against Wagner (April 29).